Clever yet sensible advertisement




This ad appeared today in LKO edition of a national daily and I found the creative quite remarkable! It communicates an extremely relevant, and metaphorical message, in a very sensible manner.
I quite admired the copy as well:
“याद रखें – अथक परिश्रम, सुप्रक्षिशण एवं नियमित पढाई ही है सफलता का मूल”
 _Bear in mind: grit, preparation, and inquiry build the foundation for success_
(I paraphrased a bit, translation is hard task!)

ROAS (framework) for Pampers’​ 2019​ Superbowl ad



The mere mention of this term conjures up different associations.

For me, it is the advertisements.


Ever since my graduation days, I’ve been fascinated with Superbowl advertisements – the grand production, clever messaging, and the subtle way through which brands reinforce their positioning year after year: human art in its finest form!

In fact most of the American viewers want to watch Superbowl ads during the game.

About 55% said that they’d be disappointed if the game was aired commercial free.

But all those impressions and TV ratings come at a cost, a whooping cost! An average 30 second ad spot during 2019 Superbowl ad broadcast cost an estimated US $5.25 Mn.


Fig1: Super Bowl average costs of a 30-second TV advertisement from 2002 to 2019 in US$

Superbowl ad cost


And one question that has been discussed and debated within academia and agencies alike is – how do you calculate Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of a Superbowl ad?


It’s an interesting question to explore, especially for FMCG/CPG brands which are quite heavily penetrated and there’s no dearth of data sources.

There have been some good studies/research on this subject. Hartmann and Klapper, from Stanford, published in their 2015 paper that soda or beer brands that advertised on Superbowl saw significantly increased sales (in-store sales/household) but this gain becomes insignificant if two major brands advertise.

They also conclusively concluded that Superbowl ads build an association between the brand and viewership of sports more broadly.


Now, a colleague of mine showed me this advertisement from Pampers which is quite endearing but is of course doesn’t speak of any association with sports

And another point to note is that because baby diapers is such a cluttered category, Pampers would’ve planned an elaborate campaign to account for the “forgetting curve”, which states that humans tend to forget a message almost completely in 7 days unless reinforced.

Fig2: The Forgetting curve and combating it

Forgetting Curve


So for Pampers, the total cost of this Superbowl campaign, which is cost of production, endorsers, broadcast for online/offline is estimated anywhere from US $50 Mn – $80 Mn!

And it got me thinking: how should Pampers evaluate the ROAS for this advertisement?

(limiting the scope to digital sector, in my simple brain).


If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt is that before you set out to answer something, you should clearly articulate what you are striving to achieve.

So, if I were in digital/eCom team of Pampers, I’d think of this digital campaign by checking, holistically, the corresponding changes in brand penetration, consumption frequency and basket spends.


Following are some of the KPIs that I would’ve first documented before the start of the campaign and then measured post campaign (week, 3 weeks, 3 months).

(I’ve focused, intentionally, on enabler KPIs and not output KPIs like GMV/sales/throughput)

  1. Shift in purchase intent, quantified to number of (potential) shoppers
  2. Page Views/glance views garnered for Pampers (key SKUs) on eCommerce
  3. Organic search ranking of these SKUs against the popular category search queries
  4. New customers acquired on eCommerce, new signups on Pampers Club, new customer IDs acquired (anonymized/identifiable)
  5. Subscriptions on eCommerce
  6. % of monthly recurring/loyal shoppers (change in lapsers) on eCommerce and Pampers Club
  7. Average Basket spends: basket value and number of items/order on eCommerce

The way I see it, Pampers should look at combination of all of these KPIs, assigning a $ value to each, and calculating the returns against total campaign cost.


Avinash Kaushik write an interesting piece on this which I highly recommend if you want to explore further.

Please let me know your thoughts, I’d be keen to make this sharper.


And I’d leave you with my favourite half-time Superbowl performance, the 2007 half-time show where Prince played Purple Rain in torrential downpour and got immortalized as the greatest performer.

I’ll just leave it there.

Movie Review: Fences

I remember watching a bit of this movie last year during a flight.

I couldn’t watch it fully as I’d some work to do but a couple of days back I watched it on Netflix.


And I’m still shaken by its brilliance!


The movie has been adopted from a Pulitzier-prize winning play featuring Viola Davis and she deserves every single acclaim for her performance. The narrative is much like a play – meandering, evolving and sequences are quite long and keep fleshing out the layers from each character.



In one of the sequences, when Troy confesses his relationship with another woman to Rose, she retorts:

Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me. Don’t you think it ever crossed my mind to want to know other men? That I wanted to lay up somewhere and forget about my responsibilities? That I wanted someone to make me laugh so I could feel good? You not the only one who’s got wants and needs. But I held on to you, Troy. I took all my feelings, my wants and needs, my dreams…and I buried them inside you. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. And it didn’t take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn’t never gonna bloom.


It truly is a work of art, one of the best movies that I’ve seen in a long time.

Keep learning, keep growing

(this is what I shared with my nephew and niece)

Hi Nikku and Aryan,
Hope you guys are doing well and enjoying a well deserved break! 😃
Many congratulations to you for doing well in the examinations. Board examinations were an extremely daunting phase in my life too, but later as I’ve realised, sometimes the pressure/expectations can be detrimental.
And I wanted to share some personal experiences with you along with some of stuff that I’ve myself learnt.
And please! In no way am I insinuating that I’m wiser or I know it all.
I too get confused about how I should live my life or which choices should I make – on a daily basis.
But I do like to read and introspect. And this exercise alone has made me a more positive and giving person.
Also, I know that we have not really spoken a lot.
And that’s why I’m taking refuge behind an email, as it’s much easier for me to share this. 
One final disclaimer (sorry for dragging this), but as you are dear to me, I won’t be politically correct.
However, and you have my promise, that I shall be honest.
Ok, here goes. I’m sharing some pointers with you, which I wish someone would have shared with a 17 year old me:
1) First and foremost, the one area where you should invest your time, is to get absolutely precise with your language. We are embracing an age where virtual connects are becoming a norm and time is becoming an increasingly rare commodity. To sincerely communicate your feelings to your loved ones and to put your argument across professionally, in a well-articulated form, the one skill that will enrich all your relationships is your command on language. Invest in it like you’d invest money for future.
2) Ask Questions. As I was growing up, I was very self-conscious that I was brought up in a small town, I’d middle class sensibilities and in some way I was less as compared to others. As a result, I was a bit timid or shy and hardly spoke up during classes or reached out to people/teachers/professors after classes. But now, I’m always the guy who asks questions, lots of them as it has become so difficult to ascertain whether something is really true or fake news/propaganda. I was too self-aware but later I realized that no one really cares, everyone is just so busy with their lives.
3) Journal. There is a profound quotation: I’m not perfect, neither I was nor will I ever be, but I shall always strive to be better than yesterday. And I really believe in this. But it’s tough to keep a track of how you are shaping as person and that’s where a journal helps. Also with me, writing stuff down shuts down those annoying voices in my head. Journalling has truly made me a more calm and centred person and I do that daily.
4) Order and moderation. They say that everything that we need to learn, to become a better human being, is taught to us in kindergarten and it’s kinda true. One of the most important virtues that we are taught early on is that discipline builds character. If there is any skill that you need to learn, committing yourself to do it daily is the hardest part but it’s the only way something truly can be mastered. There are no hacks or shortcuts.
5) Strive to be a giver, not a taker. Honestly, I have no scientific data to back this up but I experience this everyday. The more generous you are to others, in terms of expressing gratitude, your time/undivided attention and love to others, the universe pays you back many times more. Love yourself, love others and you shall also be loved. But my dears, never feel sorry for yourself for self-pity is the lowest form of human emotions.
That’s pretty much what I wanted to speak to you about right now.
Again, all of us are extremely proud of how you have shaped up to be fine adults. 
May god give you the guidance, courage and wisdom to become the best version of yourself.
I’d be very happy to keep speaking to you and sharing ideas, so that we can keep learning from each other.

Show must go on..

(This is what I shared with my team, at work, during my farewell)

Wow, this is happening. 
It has been exactly 3 years (I joined the eCom team) and I think these 3 years have changed me significantly. 
So, rather than giving you any advice I want to share something more poignant and personal. 
Just a disclaimer – I will not be politically correct but I shall be honest. Maybe a bit too honest but let’s see..
I think we live in the most exciting times and it’s amazing what all we can do with tech but this is also a time where we are most vulnerable emotionally, no matter where you look you feel as if ‘har koi apni life mein macha raha hai!’ Everyone seems to be doing exceedingly well professionally, people are getting married, married people are having babies and those kids are winning every competition!’
And I was exactly like this, constantly comparing myself to everything and kicking myself internally. It was more of self-beating than being aware. 
So, what I started doing about 4 years back was writing these thoughts down on paper
– What am I feeling?
– Why am I feeling this?
– What should I do?
And after months of this daily practice and reading about some of my heroes (like Benjamin Franklin, Fredrik Nietzsche, Swami Vivekananda, Stephen Fry) I came to the realisation that to stay really satisfied with your life, I should focus on Input KPIs (how I should conduct my thinking and behaviour) rather than focussing on output KPIs (like my rating, our how many vacations I and my wife are taking) and I wrote down my personal values. 
Again, these were 10 principles which still are like my life compass. I say it to myself daily and emulate/practice that everyday in every moment. 
I won’t bore you by talking about all these 10 values but I’d like to share the crux in 3 points. 
1) First one is that before anything – I should just accept myself the way I’m and be more self-compassionate. This is the equivalent of airline announcement that ‘doosro ki sahayata se poorv, apna mask pehen le’. You can’t help others if you don’t love yourself first. 
2) Second is that I need to amicable to my family and friends – good natured, courteous, friendly. Quote that resonates with me is “The kindest thing that you can do for people whom you care is to become a happy, joyous person”. Irrespective of whatever I’m going through, doesn’t give me the right to be rude to my family or my colleagues (I don’t have many friends). And at the same time, self-pity is the worst emotion. If I feel sorry for myself, no one will talk to me. 
3) Third one and I will cram all 7 plvalues to this one is that Discipline is the most important virtue. It builds character. Whatever I resolve to do (be it exercising daily or learning piano or learning how to code) is not a difficult task but ensuring that I do it everyday is the tough task. And that’s what matters. 
So, that’s what I wanted to share. 
If I was ever rude or said something that I shouldn’t have, it was probably your mistake!
And I wanted to thank each and everyone of you, for I’ve gained much much more from you all and become (probably) a better version of what I was 3 years back. 
 So, have fun, keep doing cool shit and keep learning. All the best!

It’s not as bad as it looks..

9 Apr, 2018
Hi Susan,
I got to know that you were recently diagnosed with a lifestyle problem and wanted to exchange notes.
Well, i’m no medical expert and all I can offer you are some of the guidelines basis which I and my wife have been able to manage my condition. These are in no way perfect but I surely have become more mentally resilient and have been able to cope up with my condition.
And let me also admit it out rightly that I will state harsh realizations, please don’t misread me but this narrative will not be politically correct.
But I will be honest.
  1. Yes, this happened to me and I first need to understand this: I always used to think that I’ve all the time in the world. And the first news of diagnosis knocks your socks off! It didn’t at first as I was in Denial. But it did came to me – that there is something that is seriously wrong with me and the first thing for me to do is to learn more about what caused this and what are the options out there.
  2. (I tried to) not panic and did my research beforehand: I did my first research on my own which in hindsight played out good as speaking straight to people, with myself lacking basic appreciation would have only confounded me. I gave myself time for doing basic research, around 2-3 days of full attention. I refrained from reading any magazine articles that offer silver bullet benefits rather I read published research papers from medical industry or peer reviewed papers where the methodology sounded non-biased. The output of my research was as 4 page word document where i’d captured what happens in my condition (pathophysiologically and symptom-wise), what are the triggers and what are the treatment/management options
  3. I identified the best expert and took an appointment: This was perhaps most important because most of us are not doctors and consulting a doctor is the first step towards fixing yourself. I was lucky to get an appointment in a week and before the appointment I made a list of my symptoms. My doctor really appreciated this as doctors find it extremely helpful when patients can explain the full trend of symptom log. What followed next was a barrage of tests. After the tests came, I discussed my diagnosis and prognosis with my doc.
  4. I didn’t take a second opinion, which was a mistake: My doc has excellent credentials and i somehow got disillusioned with authority bias. In hindsight, I should’ ve spoken to at least another industry expert, which I did later. The realization that I got was that western medicine is extremely good at crisis management but eastern medicine is more sustainable and gentler on body.
  5. I tried a therapy with full devotion and later switched: It was as 3 month course of a strong medication that I blindly trusted my doc with. I started listening carefully to my body and soon realized that the relief was only symptomatic and there were quite severe side effects. After reading some published research and discussing with my doc, I didn’t go for an extension of the drug course. Instead I embarked on another treatment of managing my condition by functional medicine: diet and exercise. This time I reached out to multiple experts and started on a protocol.
  6. I still keep questioning my choices: There is a interesting concept called Half Life of Facts – almost all we regard as proven knowledge, gets debunked faster than we can ever imagine. This is extremely relevant in medical parlance as well. So, I do approach my beliefs with healthy dose of skepticism.
  7. I continuously force myself to become a more joyous and a more giving person towards my dear ones: What you are going through is probably more difficult for your dear ones as they don’t live inside your head. The worst thing I did initially was to alienate myself from everyone as I thought to myself that I’d landed myself in this situation and only I can drag myself out of it. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Being vulnerable gave me immense strength, courage and love to carry on and also grow deeper and more meaningful relationship with my partner, my family and friends – at work and otherwise
5.5 years after initiating on this path, I can say that my condition has made me a more grounded and satisfied with how I’ve shaped up.
I wish you all the courage, strength and optimism to make the right choices to chart your course out of this.

How to spot fake news



So, I received this message today in morning in one of the (many) Whattsapp groups.

It is a detailed message with proper formatting, which makes it sound credible.

But as I’d a couple of free minutes in morning (and this topic is close to my heart I was able to identify that this is fake news.

This was the message:

Dr. Anita Simon (M. D. Pediatrician). *Finally Good News For Diabetes.*

Hope you can forward the below message to help some one who needs this info…!

A woman (65) was diabetic for the last 20+ years and was taking insulin twice a day. She used the enclosed homemade medicine for a fortnight and now she is absolutely free of diabetes and taking all her food as normal including sweets.

The doctors have advised her to stop insulin and any other blood sugar controlling drugs. I request you all please circulate the email below to as many people as you can and let them take maximum benefit from it.

(Bombay Kidney Speciality expert) made the extensive experiments with perseverance and patience and discovered a successful treatment for diabetes.
Now a days a lot of people, old men & women in particular suffer a lot due to Diabetes.

1 – *Wheat 100 gm*
2 – *Barley 100 gm*
3 – *Black Seeds (kolunji) 100 gm*
Kolunji is *karunjeeraham* in tamil

_*Method of Preparation :*_
Put all the above ingredients in *5 cups of water*.
*Boil it for 10 minute* and put off the fire.
*Allow it to cool down by itself*.
When it has become cold, *filter* out the
seeds *and preserve water in a glass jug or bottle* .

_*How to use it?*_
Take *one small cup of this water every day early morning when your stomach is empty*.
Continue this *for 7 days*.
*Next week repeat the same but on alternate days*. With these 2 weeks of
treatment *you will wonder to see that you have become normal* and can eat
normal food without problem* .*

A request is to spread this to as many as possible so that others can also take benefit out of it.


So, what are the quick give-aways?

  1. Check grammar: The message starts off by Dr Anita Simon (MD Pediatrician) with the subject: Finally good news for Diabetes!
    1. There is no medical branch called Pediatrician, it is Pediatrics and the subject should have been Good News for Diabetics not Diabetes.
  2. Check facts: Common seed has three parts: bran, endosperm and germ. The core nutrients of a seed is found in germ and some proteins/oil is in endosperm. Boiling a seed and drinking that water will only mean that you end up consuming a concentrated pesticide solution
  3. Apply common sense: The biggest fad/scam of 21st century is passing off everything as non-harmful because it is natural. This indeed is very misleading. Even organic crops are treated with pesticides and fertilisers but those chemicals are not artificially synthesised in factories.

And one final suggestion to all – most of us consume news through social media (it is all pervasive), so, don’t forward any message till you can vouch for it and also CALL OUT FAKE NEWS WHEN YOU SPOT IT!

That way you may end up helping out a lot more people.

Pic courtesy: